Cox is poised to support industry recovery and growth.
Cox Business believes in hospitality. So much so that the company has dedicated an entire division to it, with a new vice president leading the charge. Jady West is VP of Hospitality, Cox Business Earlier this year, telecommunications giant Cox Business appointed Jady West as its first VP of Hospitality. As such, he oversees the company’s two hospitality divisions: Hospitality Network, the Las Vegas-based Cox affiliate that provides advanced in-room entertainment, managed Wi-Fi and high-speed Internet services to the hotel and gaming industry; and Blueprint RF, an Atlanta-based managed network solutions provider that serves major hotel brands across the United States.
West began his career at the company almost a decade ago as director of strategic sales for Cox Business and Hospitality Network. In that role, he oversaw several significant wins, including the Las Vegas Convention Center, Caesars Entertainment, T-Mobile Arena, Boyd Gaming and Station Casinos. As a result, Hospitality Network expanded with a renewed focus on a national presence and, in 2016, promoted him to senior director of sales. Now, with the naming of West as vice president of the hospitality division, Cox is reaffirming its commitment to the hotel and hospitality market.
And although COVID-19 has had a tragic impact on the industry, the company is confident in its recovery. “We’re secure in our commitment to this market, and we’re doing everything we can to support our customers as they work through the challenges related to the pandemic,” he said. “We not only believe the industry is resilient but also that it shows very strong growth potential.”
Since 1982, Hospitality Network has delivered leading edge technology to the hospitality industry with a wide array of solutions, including managed Wi-Fi, internet, HDTV, in-room entertainment systems and digital signage. Each solution is tailored to meet the specific needs of customers, some of which are large smart venues, such as stadiums, arenas, airports and convention centers. The company boasts an impressive customer roster: its products are installed in some of the world’s largest properties, including more than 80 percent of the hotels and convention spaces on the Las Vegas Strip. According to West, one of the organization’s key strengths is the high degree of customization it brings to each project. “Every solution we deliver is unique to the property or venue, and we integrate in the most complex technology environments to achieve exactly what customers want,” he said.
Today’s guests travel with more devices than ever, and they expect the hotels they visit to provide seamless connectivity. They also crave convenience and increasingly want the ability to cast and stream from their own devices to the hotel TV screen. “Properties have to fine-tune their technology to make sure it’s seamless,” West said. “Guests are demanding the same or better connectivity when they’re traveling as they have when they’re at home.” Looking to expand their footprint within the hospitality industry, Cox Business and Hospitality Network began surveying the market for a company that could open the door to the national hotel brands. Blueprint RF was doing a great job in that sector; and, in fact was a preferred provider for some of the industry’s leading brands, including Hyatt, IHG and Marriott.
Founded in 2011, Blueprint RF is a hospitality-focused network services provider that helps properties deliver a comprehensive suite of integrated network solutions, including premium managed Wi-Fi for guest access and connectivity, business center workstation installation and maintenance, conference management and support, and back-office bandwidth. The company’s primary customer base consists of hotels and resorts; it currently ensures uninterrupted connectivity to approximately 400,000 guest rooms throughout the United States and Canada. Blueprint RF got its start when founders Ron Peterson and James Tubo realized there was a big gap in network services for the hospitality industry. Because off-the-shelf network services tools and databases weren’t integrated and didn’t address industry-specific needs, hoteliers had to work with disparate databases; and, as a result, were unable to make sound business decisions.
So, Blueprint created a data schema to pull all network management metrics into a single database that enabled users to look broadly across multiple entries, extract and analyze data to improve performance, create tools around those needs, and expedite those actions that result in faster and more consistent service. Cox Business acquired Blueprint RF in August 2017, and it has been a match made in technology heaven. “Blueprint has provided us with an attractive new market,” West said. “The company not only offers superlative technology but also has a stellar reputation in the industry.”
MEETING THE NEEDS OF A DIVERSE MARKET
Particularly appealing to Cox was Blueprint RF’s robust gateway platform, Dominion. Built specifically for the hospitality industry, the groundbreaking on-site solution combines circuit load balancing, gateway authentication, and packet shaping in a single system to ensure uninterrupted high-speed internet access on a property’s Wi-Fi network. The platform enables hotels to safeguard their systems without disabling key features, and its built-in redundancies add extra levels of protection without lowering speeds or increasing costs. And now, Blueprint RF is introducing a second-generation Dominion server called DG2.
The solution offers more than 200 features that can be configured to a hotel’s specific needs and delivers 40 gigabits per interface for a superior guest experience. Built from the ground up, DG2’s new features include content filtering, high availability clustering, and bandwidth distribution with full layer seven capabilities. DG2 also collects and archives critical network information in cloud-hosted data warehouses. Hoteliers can access the data via an easy-to-use dashboard application, which provides valuable insight into traffic patterns and guests’ Wi-Fi behaviors. The more data the system collects, the better it can forecast the property’s needs. “Our Wi-Fi solutions are customized to the hotel rather than to a general industry statistic,” said Blueprint RF co-founder Tubo, who now serves as the company’s executive director of operations.
Moreover, the dashboard displays critical network activities so that managers, owners and brands are alerted to performance issues before they become performance problems. Blueprint RF can easily pinpoint potential trouble spots and can usually handle them remotely. If an on-site correction is needed, the company will send a technician or walk the property through a simple reset. For Cox Business and Hospitality Network, the partnership with Blueprint RF has opened the door to a suite of solutions and services for properties of all sizes.
Blueprint RF’s industry expertise, coupled with the financial and operational capabilities of Cox, enables broader and stronger hospitalityfocused technologies, deep analytics, and an accelerated delivery that benefits hotel owners. While Blueprint RF and Hospitality Network have shared some accounts since the acquisition took place, the organizations have been managed separately for the most part. Now, the focus is on working together to leverage each company’s solutions to their fullest potential to meet the needs of a diverse market. “Although each business has a different customer base and brings a unique suite of products and services to the table, the two organizations are very complimentary,” West said. “If you look at our entire solution set, we can meet customer needs from A-to-Z. We have the ability to deliver a world-class guest experience to hotels of all sizes and configurations – from boutique properties and resorts to large chains and convention center hotels.”
IN-ROOM ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM
As the industry prepares for the return of travelers post-COVID-19, Cox Business is readying its newest solution for market. Previewed at HITEC 2019, the Hospitality Network In-Room Entertainment (IRE) system is built from the ground up to meet hotel demands at an affordable price point. More than a TV, the solution is a highly customizable marketing platform that provides guests with the content and convenience they want while giving hoteliers a robust tool that increases profitability. Scalable to any size property, the system features dynamic content, such as the latest Hollywood movies, free-to-guest channel lineups, popular sports and news channels, international channels, and over-the-top (OTT) content applications. And more, an optional turnkey advertising model can create an end-to-end revenue-generating ecosystem for the hotel. Managers can be involved as much – or as little – as they want.
The solution also provides a digital compendium of the hotel’s services and amenities, making it easy for guests to do everything from request fresh towels to check pool opening hours. Attractive images and interactive displays boost guest spending. Moreover, the contactless compendium makes travelers feel more secure amid heightened health concerns. According to West, the In-Room Entertainment solution provides unparalleled functionality that hotels and their guests have come to expect. “We can capture the unique flavor of every property,” he said. “The system offers an extremely high level of customization, and its features and functions are current with industry demands. In fact, we’re already taking future demands into consideration. The solution is built to evolve toward guests bringing their own content.” Hospitality Network also understands network interconnectivity like no other company. “One of the value-adds we bring to the table is our deep understanding of everything from Wi-Fi to video systems,” he said. “We know which solutions play well together and exactly how each system should connect to the others.”
The launch of the In-Room Entertainment system represents the company’s understanding of the type of technology hoteliers are currently seeking. “We’re confident that this solution is going to be a big win for us and for our customers, who will be able to provide a superior guest experience while generating additional lines of revenue.” Along with developing and building new systems, Cox is also enhancing its current ones. At Blueprint RF, for example, the Dominion platform is getting new features, upgraded security and additional capacity. “We’re giving our customers the capabilities to keep pace with ever-changing guest demands,” West concluded. “Hotels are increasingly looking to maximize in-room technology as well as guest spend, and we’re offering the solutions that help them do both.”